4 Future Smartphone Trends on the Horizon
As the 10th anniversary of the iPhone approaches this fall, the smartphone industry is looking forward to the anticipated release of the iPhone 8 this September. The latest rumors predict a bigger screen with a new curved design, augmented reality features, wireless charging and a new sensing technology, according to TechRadar. These anticipated features reflect trends that are shaping the future of smartphone design. Here’s a look at four trends in smartphone innovation and where the future of smartphones is headed.
Curved Screen Designs
As consumer tastes have gravitated toward larger display sizes, smartphone manufacturers have wrestled with the problem of trying to make screens bigger without crossing into tablet sizes and without making them excessively heavy. Since the iPhone 6, designers have tried tackling this problem by curving phone screens, which allows for more space without adding length or width. Phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and the LG V20 have adopted this approach.
Industry watchers expect the iPhone 8 to take curved-screen design to a new level by adopting an edge-to-edge display. The new design will resemble a single glass sheet with the top and bottom bezels and home button eliminated. The enlarged screen will be between 5.5 inches and 5.8 inches, and the phone’s edges may shrink to allow for the larger display size. To keep these changes from making the phone heavier, the new design will use a light, flexible OLED display with a glass body wrapped around an aluminum or stainless steel frame. This will be the first departure from the metallic body that has been characteristic of models since the iPhone 5.
Wireless Charging and USB-C
In recent years, Android phone manufacturers, such as Samsung, Google and Nokia, have produced models that support wireless charging. Apple is expected to finally adopt this trend with the iPhone 8. Wireless charging uses a charging pad instead of a USB cable to recharge phone batteries. It is quicker, easier and better-looking than traditional charging.
As phones shift to wireless charging, traditional USB ports and cables are being phased out in favor of USB-C. USB-C allows for faster charging as well as enabling phones to connect to HD monitors, headphones and external storage devices.
New Input Methods
In 2015, Apple’s MacBook and Apple Watch lines introduced a taptic input method that enabled devices to respond to different degrees of pressure with different actions. The iPhone 6s Plus incorporated this taptic innovation into its 3-D Touch controls, giving users more flexible ways to control apps and games. The iPhone 8 will reportedly expand on this by sensing input from touches to any part of the phone, including its sides.
Future smartphone designs are likely to further develop haptic, tactic and other input methods. Car producer Robert Bosch has introduced a touchscreen that combines haptic technology with different surfaces for button textures, with different textures representing buttons with different functions. Iris scanning and facial recognition are also emerging as input methods.
Augmented Reality as the Smartphone’s Successor
Apple CEO Tim Cook envisions augmented reality to be as revolutionary as the smartphone. One of the ways the general public became acquainted with AR was through “Pokemon GO,” which bridged the gap between real and virtual reality by enabling gamers to use a map of the physical world to catch digital Pokemon. Industry watchers expect future iPhone and smartphone models will make further use of AR technology. For instance, people might be able to find their seat in a stadium by looking at their phone.
To facilitate AR, future phone models will begin incorporating features such as front and rear cameras with 3-D photography capability. AR features will be integrated with mobile payment apps so users can make purchases through AR displays.
Former Apple analyst Gene Munster foresees augmented reality gradually replacing smartphones. This process will likely involve the integration of AR with the Internet of Things, enabling ambient devices and surfaces to perform functions currently performed by smartphones. Apple is anticipated to release AR-powered glasses within the next two years.